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Tbilisi exhibition to showcase new findings on neanderthals in South Caucasus

A Georgian National Museum display will bring fresh findings on neanderthals in the South Caucasus from the Tsutskhvati Cave archaeological site to viewers in the capital starting this Saturday.

At the Museum of Georgia, a venue of the GNM network, “new and old” exhibits from the site located in country’s west will be on show to tell stories of residents of the territory from as far back as 80,000 years ago.

The exhibition serves to illustrate findings of an ongoing expedition, led by GNM scientist Nikoloz Tsikaridze, at the location, 25km outside regional capital Kutaisi in the west.

The international effort, supported by the Shota Rustaveli National Science Foundation, reported on identifying and unearthing artifacts of neanderthal settlements dated back 50,000 years at the site in August this year.

A child’s tooth found at Tsutskhvati was confirmed to be from the ancient time period, while signs of homo sapiens from the same era were assigned to the period between 12,000-80,000 years ago.

A GNM release on findings in the summer said the historical residents’ “behaviour, relation to the modern human and prospect of mutual connection” would be the questions studied by the team that would “also attempt to find answers to reasons for the extinction of the neanderthals”.

The caverns have been under archaeological studies since the 1970s, when the State Museum of History of Georgia and the Institute of Paleobiology carried out joint works at the site.

Their findings included stone weapons from 400,000-40,000 years ago and the tooth identified in later examination. The location also saw digs in the late 1990s and the early 2000s, however most of the cave area was only studied starting in 2016.

Involving scientists from France and the United States alongside up to 50 local students, the current expedition is supported by the Rustaveli foundation’s project titled ‘Neanderthals in the South Caucasus’.

The Museum of Georgia display will run between December 7-February 1 at the venue located at 3, Rustaveli Avenue in Tbilisi.

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